( Mole )
“His expressions were drowning on the mask of his face”
5 inkjet prints on paper
Shark : 30 x 40 cm
Smiling boy : 80 x 109 cm
Laughing boy : 50 x 50 cm
Profile : 90 x 120 cm
Stubble : 50 x 80 cm
Digital Paintings – A Pictorial Autopsy
We have seen how Marie Briffa’s work often aims to unravel the relationships which unify a motif and its social or private signification; Digital Paintings bring these processes to the heart of another practice – that of observational drawing.
Observation here passes through the technological filter of the computer, and dismisses our rapport to the support drawing and to observation itself. At first, because this virtualization of drawing dismisses itself from its material reality; however, paradoxically it is by its virtualization – leaving its frame, its scale and its unique blueprint to submit itself to infographic manipulation – that it acquires a new materiality. To amplify this we must consider scientific and medical imagery which allows us, through technology, to represent that which constitutes the visible world; X-rays, CAT scanners, and microscopes bring out the otherwise invisible and biological manner of the matter which comprises objects and bodies – in turn constructing a typology of the world according to a model which transcends ocular observation and the human scale.
Numerical drawing can possibly penetrate that also, virtually disemboweled by technology. By extracting and isolating plastic morphemes, organs, and representative symptoms from body to picture, Marie Briffa presents a new scale and a new formal function to these elements, which become the new subjects of the work of representation and association. However, the question of representation plays a central role, seen in medical imagery: how to represent to the human eye, that which is not observable on the human scale? There is another consequence of the aforementioned virtuality, made visible through Marie’s work by what comes and goes between virtuality and reality: Digital Paintings submit a series of scaled variations. The final shapes are in actuality not virtual, but a print of large proportions. The artist’s choice to give a physical reality to her images, a solid body; formed, skinned; denotes this effort to make the invisible visible by providing a framework, instead of visibility on a human scale where the virtual image does not scale, is not subject to any size, and therefore not in a physical relationship with the observer. But this rapport of scale with the viewer of Digital Paintings reveals an important material preoccupation.
Virtualization of an image and the manipulative possibilities, which ensues the overthrow of the classical hierarchy compared to the observation, is in a sense where the manipulation becomes the foremost of this observation (this is referred to elsewhere, in the medical domain, as electro-radiological manipulation). We observe only what we manipulate, and to observe, we must manipulate. The subjectivity of one’s observation, rendered obsolete by these manipulative possibilities, give way to a haptic practice of painting.
In her work with Scotch tape Background, and in Void if Discovered, this confrontation of gesture and observational drawing was already present. One needed to physically engage in the construction of the painting, before thinking it to emerge as a whole visible image. If physical engagement returns here to virtual manipulation, this occurs due to the same logic as a gestural construction of an image (Marie works with a mouse) that we usually find in painting practice.What is important is that these images result in a human construction, because this is where the work detaches from objective construction of the image and scientific methodology.The Digital Paintings bring the subjective and invisible experience of a virtual and haptic observation of an image, back to a public scale. It still concerns the revelation of virtual imagination – coming from behind the visibility of the horizon.
Julien Lanchet, 2012
Translated by Chloé Jane Briffa